Monday, February 19, 2007

Book Promotion Can Be Fun--Even for the Reluctant

Would anyone like to switch places with "Pip," whose February 18, 2007 Type M for Murder blog entry cites this response to the publisher's book promotion efforts: "...varying degrees of terror/success – but mostly terror...."

Book promotion doesn't have to incite terror. Book publicity can, in fact, be the reward for having written and published your book.

Well, I can understand that not everyone enjoys the "media frenzy" that comes along with a successful book promotion campaign. The limelight is not necessarily what writers have in mind when they spend 50 weeks a year writing, alone, and enjoying the solitude as much as the creative process.

I know that everyone says "I want to jump-start my book promotion campaign. Tell me how I can do that." But, when it comes down to it, some authors find book promotion to be rather terrifying. Pip is just one example of an author who's honest about it.

Pip writes, "Any suggestions about how to deal with all this with grace, charm and the minimum of terror would be gratefully accepted." Okay, Pip. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.

First, tell your book publicist that your telephone is in perfect working order, and that you're interested in using it. You do not need to be "wheeled out" to appear on radio shows. Your book publicist can arrange telephone interviews instead that you can do from your home or office (just be sure to have a land line and a quiet place for your interview, and use a telephone line that does not have call waiting on it). Think of how much more relaxed you'll be when you're in a "safe space" wearing comfortable clothes, and all you have to focus on is the voice on the other end of the telephone.

Second, expect the worst from interviewers (although you're free to hope for the best). Expect them to be too tired to be lucid. (Or expect them to be too revved up on, um, coffee, to hold a decent conversation.) Expect them to be incapable of listening to you. Expect them to know nothing about your background or your book or your Web site. Shoot -- expect them to know nothing about any author, or any book, or any Web site. And expect them to think that the confrontational interview is hugely entertaining, whether your book is about politics, abortion, gun control, or how bake fat-free cookies.

Seriously, don't expect your interviews to go well because the interviewers know what they're doing. Expect your interviews to go well because you know what you're doing. Prepare questions ahead of time, and ask your book publicist to add them to the media kit. These suggested interview questions will serve as guidelines for well-meaning interviewers. And even when interviewers aren't well-intentioned, your suggested interview questions will at least help you remember what it is that you want to talk about. Then, when the interview's questions or comments start to get silly, you can respond to the silly question or comments by bridging back to one of the questions on your list. "Indeed, there are a lot of tractors on the road around here. And, just as importantly, why do you suppose this candidate has the upper hand right now? I'll tell you, it's because...."

In other words, be prepared to guide all of your interviews into the areas that matter to you. If the interviewer helps you do that, great. If not, then take control of the interview without being obnoxious or belligerent, and take the conversation where you need for it to go.

And about that feeling of terror...see whether you can turn that rush of adrenaline into something positive. It's always a good thing to be pumped up for interviews, and to be humble enough to prepare for every interview. Remember that book promotion has a purpose. Every interview provides you with an opportunity to showcase your expertise, disseminate your messages, and win new friends and admirers.

Your book publicist wants to hear some excitement from you when he or she schedules interviews, so see whether you can feel some of that. Try it. Book Promotion can be fun, if you'll let it.

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